'The Magicians' Season 2 Premiere Postmortem: The Cast Talks Their Crowning Moment

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Hale Appleman as Eliot, Jason Ralph as Quentin (Credit: Carole Segal/Syfy)
Hale Appleman as Eliot, Jason Ralph as Quentin (Credit: Carole Segal/Syfy)

The Season 2 premiere of Syfy’s The Magicians was all about regrouping and preparing for the next battle in the war to save Fillory. It also included one of the series’ best scenes to date.

We, of course, are referring to the impromptu coronation ceremony on the beach. First, the gang had to earn their four crowns by proving they were children of Earth by acing a test of pop culture trivia. Cue Eliot (Hale Appleman) taking Alice (Olivia Tayler Dudley) by the hand and performing Patrick Swayze’s classic “Sorry for the disruption, folks, but I always do the last dance of the season” monologue from Dirty Dancing.

“I’m sorry to break your heart, but I’m going to be really, really upfront with you and tell you that I had never seen Dirty Dancing,” Appleman admits. “I spent the first week of shooting marathon-watching Dirty Dancing, or at the very least, that speech and that scene, over and over and over again, until I felt like I could kind of channel or tap into Swayze’s Swayzeisms. It took me a little while. I can’t say that I definitely nailed it. I feel a little bit like I might let down a lot of die-hard Dirty Dancing fans, and that’s my No. 1 fear.”

Olivia Taylor Dudley as Alice, with Appleman (Credit: Carole Segal/Syfy)
Olivia Taylor Dudley as Alice, with Appleman (Credit: Carole Segal/Syfy)

Quentin (Jason Ralph) suggested they take a moment to honor the fact that they were becoming kings and queens and each kneel to receive their crown. The Vancouver location was beautiful, but it’s the disarmingly honest, character-driven dialogue that made us want to rewind. “I think that’s kind of the beauty of this show: We can go from a moment as absurd and over the top as the Dirty Dancing monologue and dovetail into this lovely scene that [executive producer] Sera Gamble wrote, that I think is one of the more emotionally resonant scenes that we’ve had up to that point,” Appleman says. “It’s really special to see these characters reveal their hearts to each other in an open, emotionally mature way. You don’t get a lot of that on The Magicians, and so when that happens, I feel that it holds some extra weight.”

Dudley described the experience of filming the scene as “cathartic” when she visited Yahoo TV alongside Ralph and Stella Maeve for a Facebook Live interview last week (watch it in full below). “They gave us a lot of time to shoot that scene because there were a lot of really heartfelt moments between all of our characters, and we got to kind of recap and go over some of the things we’ve experienced together, as actors, over the past season and the beginning of this season. Real tears were shed,” she said. “It was a beautiful day.”

“It was an unexpectedly loving and lovely moment,” Ralph added in agreement. “These characters aren’t the kind of people that tell each other their feelings very often or communicate in that way. And so for them to kind of be forced to, it was cool for us to kind of get caught be surprise as well as the characters. It was a really fun scene to shoot.”

Appleman with Jason Ralph as Quentin (Credit: Carole Segal/Syfy)
Appleman with Jason Ralph as Quentin (Credit: Carole Segal/Syfy)

Appleman thinks producers used mostly his first take for the shots of him as Quentin says kind words about King Eliot the Spectacular. “When Jason crowned me, it was an incredibly touching moment between us,” he says. “I just felt like the bonds of friendships were being officiated in a way. Everyone who works on the show has that.”

While you’d expect Eliot to have the right words for crowning best friend Margo (Summer Bishil), which he did, his genuine apology to Alice and the acknowledgment that he has “some character defects” that he’s working on was perfect — and a fitting start to a season that will find Eliot having to grow up and rule Fillory. “Feelings and responsibilities are not easy for him, and I think he’s coming to terms with how he may have truly hurt someone that he truly cares about,” Appleman says. “Alice is someone who kind of sneaks up on him. I think it’s a moment of pure honesty, and I think there’s a level of respect between Alice and Eliot. I think that he admires her — her ability and her steadfast, studious nature. I think that he wishes he could be perhaps a little bit more [like her]. I think that Alice and Eliot could really learn a few tricks from each other.”

Related: ‘The Magicians’ Season 2: Stella Maeve Talks Importance of Telling Rape Survivor’s Story, Julia’s Beastly Bargain

The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Syfy.